China is Near by New York's pioneer experimental group White Out, represents their third album and promises to be their most adventurous release to date. This session busts out of the gate, and careens all over the tonal soundscape, zagging from icy calm to furious riot in sixty seconds.
The estimable talents of multi-instrumentalist Lin Culbertson and drummer Tom Surgal are fused with the efforts put forth by master eclectic Jim O'Rourke, their frequent collaborator in recent years. Rounding out the session is special guest William Winant, the supremely gifted percussionist who has worked with everyone from John Cage to Yo Yo Ma to Sonic Youth.
The recording of this historic summit marks the first time these four vibrant personalities ever played together. The end result contains some of the most conceptually advanced and unique sounds to be produced in contemporary music today.
The unorthodox instrumentation (analog synthesizers, drums, autoharp, bells , chains, timpani, vibes, scrap metal, springs, gong, etc.) employed by these maverick innovators, helps to create an electro-acoustic collage like no other.
The breadth of idea and the emotional intensity expressed within this album is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The organization of sound, the seemingly hyper orchestrations, and the pure variety of composition, is all the more impressive with the knowledge that the entire contents of the album were improvised.
China Is Near was recorded live, in one day, in Sonic Youth's Echo Canyon studio, with no overdubs or studio effects.
The electronic cries and soul stirring blips of the synthesizers, accompanied by the spectral strains of the autoharp, emphatically combine with the clang, spit and growl of the extended percussion. The listener is instantly transported to another sonic realm all together. A space place where dark mystery resides and possibility is infinite.
The album's opener Ghost Mirror Image is a kind of mini opus, whose haunting quality well reflects its title. Lost In Grey follows with its moody, introspective tone. Stifled Moon is next, and unfolds like some angular Haiku. Mutinous evolves from its delicate introduction to a heavy storm of pagan rage, followed by The Empty Center, a haltering statement of drone and beauty. The final track, Favorite Jungle, slowly builds from stuttering spurts into a wild orgy of swelling sounds.
China Is Near defies all critical classification. Elements of psychedelia, prog, free jazz, contemporary classical are all in evidence; but ultimately it really doesn't sound like anything else that has ever preceded it.
It is truly a new music of the moment, spontaneously born of these four intrepid souls, who have bonded together telepathically to forge a brave new sound.
released July 12, 2005
Lin Culbertson: Synths,Autoharp
Tom Surgal: Drums, Bells, etc.
Jim O’Rourke: Synth
William Winant: Timpani,Tam Tam,Vibes, Drums
Recorded at Echo Canyon by Aaron Mullan
White Out would like to thank Simon Bodger, Sonic Youth,
Mike Watt, Gerard Cosloy, and Tonic.
White Out’s core nucleus of Lin Culbertson and Tom Surgal employ a unique array of instruments including: analog
synthesizers, electric autoharp, flute, drums, springs, Cambodian shells, temple blocks, chains, metal scraps, gongs, bells, whistles, etc. These exotic instruments work together to forge a singular mysterious sound; an electro-acoustic music which can seem as ancient as it is modern....more